Lady Mary St John

Lady Mary Kerr married Frederick St John in December 1788. She had just celebrated her 21st birthday and he was soon to turn 25.

Mary was a member of the Scottish aristocracy whose family seat was the medieval Newbattle Abbey at Dalkeith. Mary was the 4th child and 3rd daughter of William John Kerr, 5th Marquess of Lothian and his wife Elizabeth Fortescue.

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Elizabeth Fortescue – Lady Mary’s mother

Frederick St John was the younger of two sons born to the warring Frederick St John, 2nd Viscount Bolingbroke and Lady Diana Spencer whose marriage ended spectacularly  in divorce in 1768.

Frederick Jnr joined the army in 1779 aged 14 as an ensign in the 85th Regiment of Foot and went on to become the second most senior general in the British Army. But in 1788 he had marriage on his mind and the young Lady Mary Kerr fitted the bill nicely.

Frederick St John

Frederick St John

Mary didn’t become pregnant immediately after the wedding, perhaps Frederick’s military duties took him away from home, but by February 1791 she was due to give birth to the couples’ first child. A son, Robert William, was born on February 5; the following day Mary died. She was 23 years old.

At first it seemed that this was about all the information I would be able to garner about Mary. Her death warranted a brief mention in the Annual Register, or a View of History, Politics and Literature for the Year 1791 – Lady Mary St John, lady of the honourable major Frederick St John. In The Gentleman’s Magazine the entry is equally brief 6 [February] at her house in Park Lane, Lady Mary St John, lady of Major St J. and daughter of the Marquis of Lothian.

Horace Walpole, Whig politician and friend of Frederick’s mother Lady Di, mentioned Mary’s death in a letter to Miss Berry, and that seemed to be that.

And then a visit to the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre revealed a most fascinating document filed among the household bills of Henry Herbert, 10th Earl of Pembroke.

Frederick had close family ties to the Pembroke family. Henry Herbert, the 10th Earl, was married to Lady Elizabeth Spencer, the sister of Frederick’s mother, Lady Diana Spencer. Their son and Frederick’s cousin, George Augustus Herbert, who became the 11th Earl of Pembroke, married Elizabeth Beauclerk, Frederick’s sister by his mother’s second marriage to Topham Beauclerk.

However, I certainly didn’t expect to find the following in a box of Pembroke family papers:

2057/A6/18 Account for the funeral of Lady Mary St John at Lydiard Tregoze; to be paid by Lord Herbert.

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A view of the South Door at St Mary’s Church, Lydiard Tregoze, through which the funeral cortege would have entered.

In fascinating detail this document recounts the cost of Lady Mary’s funeral, from the arrangements at her London home, the long journey to Wiltshire and the short one from the Hall in Lydiard House to the church at St Mary’s just footsteps away.

According to this document Lady Mary’s body was collected from her home in North Audley Street and she was buried on February 12 in the family vault at Lydiard Tregoze in Wiltshire by the order of the Hon. Lord Herbert.

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Details from the funeral account – Lady Mary St John died 1791

The first items to appear on the long list are:

Superfine Crape Shroud, headress & pillow neatly pink’d £2 2s

Large Superfine Crape Sheet to wrap the Body in £1 5s

An Elm Coffin lined with Superfine Crape, Quilted lining & a thick Mattress for the Bottom of the Coffin £1 11s 6d

Other expensive items include the outer lead coffin, inscription plate and brass handles, but it is the details of the journey which are especially interesting.

Feathers [ostrich] placed on the Corps in Audley Street & carried before the Funeral to the Stonesend, placed on the Corps at the Inn on the Road & place of Interment.

Travelling costs were expensive – Two men on Horseback as Porters to attend the Funeral to the place of Interment 6 days each cost £7 4s; a Hearse & 4 Horses £2 2s 6 days cost £12 12s and a coach & 4 Horses £2 2s 6 days cost £12 12s.

Rooms at the Inns on the Road for the Corps cost 17s 6d with a further 17s 6d for two men sitting up with the Corps.

As the funeral cortege neared Lydiard Tregoze a bell was tolled at Marlborough – 6s 8d and again at Swindon 5s.

At Lydiard Tregoze 8 Bearers were employed to carry the Corps from the Hall to the place of Interment by Mr Crooks appointment £2 2s.

The last item on the funeral account is the charge of Turnpikes £1 18s 6d.

The final bill came to £98 18s 8d.

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Details from the funeral account – Lady Mary St John died 1791

Sadly so little is known about the life of Lady Mary St John, but a great deal is known about her after her death.

 

 

 

 

 

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Fonmon Castle and another St John connection

The Lydiard Park estate came in to the possession of the St John family when Oliver St John married Margaret Beauchamp in about 1425. The North Wiltshire estate would remain in the family for more than 500 years, but when did the  St Johns themselves arrive in England?

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Lydiard House and Park

Originally from St.Jean-le-Thomas in Normandy the St John name appears on a charter dated 1053 witnessed by none other than William, Duke of Normandy who just thirteen years later would invade and conquer England. And there are Charters linking Thomas St. John, Sheriff of Oxford as Thomas St. John, son of Raoul and formerly of St. Jean-le-Thomas.

Some forty years later there is a record that Thomas de St John was granted land by Henry I, which led to a theory that the St Johns didn’t leave Normandy until after 1066.

These facts also dispel the myth that a St John was, supposedly, one of the twelve knights that conquered Glamorgan under fitzHamo in the late 11th century.

But by the end of the 13th century there is a definite sighting of the St Johns at Fonmon Castle, ten miles west of Cardiff.

It is believed the first castle was a timber built structure. The stone version was built in 1180 by Baron Adam de Port, Lord Basing, about the same time that he married Mabel, the daughter of Reginald de Aurevalle and the grandchild and heir of Roger St John. However, the supposed connection between de Port family and Fonmon is very new and without documentation. Several historians have ‘suggested’ that William St.John (son of Adam de Port) is the person who signed a Glamorganshire 13th century charter, but as yet no one has found any proof.

Adam De Port’s son William declared on entry to parliament that he (William de Port) was from this day forward to be known as William Sancto Johannes. It is likely
that William’s mother died before the St.John inheritance passed to her
son. Panel two of the St John polyptych in St Mary’s Church, Lydiard Tregoze, shows these relationships and GEC Complete Peerage quotes the Latin text of William’s declaration to parliament.

In a charter dated to before 1121, Thomas St. John of St. Jean-le-Thomas mentions his brothers John and Roger and a nephew Ralf de Port so there must be other family relationships between the two families.

During the early to middle 13th century additions to the stone built structure included a square tower to the south and a round tower joining the main block.

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Fonmon Castle

Fonmon Castle along with lands at Bletso in Bedfordshire descended through the elder son of Oliver St John and Margaret Beauchamp until 1656 when it was sold to Colonel Phillip Jones, MP, Privy Councillor and Cromwell’s right hand man and 7x great grandfather of the present owner.

And for more than 250 years the property descended down the male line of the Jones family until Oliver Henry Jones died in 1917. Oliver had no children and the estate passed jointly to his nieces Beatrice and Clara Valpy, the daughters of his sister Edith Alicia Jones. Clara married Sir Seymour William Brooke Boothby, the grandparents of Sir Brooke Charles Boothby, 15th Bt and the present owner of Fonmon Castle.

It has been the family’s proud claim that during the castle’s 800 year history it has only been owned by two families, the St John and the Jones, but guess what – it get’s even better then that.

In 1976 Sir Brooke Charles Boothby married Georgiana Alexandra Russell, the daughter of Aliki Diplarakou (Miss Europe 1930) and her second husband Sir John Wriothesley Russell. Now does the Russell name ring any bells with you, I wonder?

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Aliki Diplarakou

Well let’s skip back a couple more generations – Sir John Wriothesley Russell’s father was Sir Thomas Wentworth Russell, Commandant of the Cairo City Police and Director of the Narcotic Intelligence Bureau; then we have Rev Henry Charles Russell, Rector at Wollaton, Northants and Lieutenant Colonel Lord Charles James Fox of the 52nd Regiment until we arrive at John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford.

Now we skip through the generations of the dukedom, back to Francis Russell, 4th Earl of Bedford, born at the end of the 16th century.

Nearly there – we have arrived at William Russell 1st Baron Russell of Thornhaugh. William was a professional soldier who gained the rank of Lieutenant General in 1585. The following year he fought in the Battle of Zutphen in the Netherlands and in 1587 became the Governor of Flushing. He was appointed Lord Deputy of Ireland on May 16, 1594.

But more importantly, for readers of this blog, William was the fourth son of Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford and his wife Margaret St. John.

Margaret St John, Countess of Bedford was the daughter of Sir John St John and Margaret Waldegrave. Sir John was head of the senior branch of the family, a great grandson of Margaret Beauchamp and had been raised at court by Margaret Beaufort (mother of Henry VII). Soldier and statesman Sir John entered the court of his kinsman Henry VIII.  In 1533 he served as knight of the body, was ‘custos’ (guard) to Princess Mary in 1536 and chamberlain in the household of the Princess Elizabeth.

Margaret was one of four daughters born to this couple. After her first short lived marriage to William Gostwick,  Margaret married Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford. The couple had at least seven children and the stories of Lady Anne and Lady Margaret have already featured in this Good Gentlewoman blog.

Margaret died at Woburn, the Russell family home, on August 27, 1562 from smallpox. She was buried at Chenies, Buckinghamshire where Francis later joined her in an elaborate alabaster tomb complete with coloured effigies of the couple and a lengthy inscription.

On April 6, 2014 Sir Brooke Boothby handed over the running of Fonmon Castle to his daughter Aliki Currimjee, 13x great granddaughter of Margaret St. John.

Now doesn’t that make a good story. My thanks to Sonia St John for passing it on.

Aliki Currimjee

Aliki Currimjee

 

Mary O’Brien, 3rd Countess of Orkney

There’s nothing that excites me more than finding a family with multiple links to the St Johns of Lydiard Park – I know, very sad and I probably should get out more!

The Good Gentlewoman featured today is Mary O’Brien, 3rd Countess of Orkney whose portrait (below) this may or may not be.

Mary O'Brien, 3rd Countess of Orkney

Mary O’Brien, 3rd Countess of Orkney

Some say it is of her daughter also named Mary, 4th Countess of Orkney. If any reader has the definitive answer perhaps they would like to add it to the comments below. Meanwhile I’ll continue.

Mary was born c1720, the daughter of Anne and William O’Brien, 4th Earl of Inchiquin. As the eldest daughter of George Hamilton 1st Earl of Orkney, Anne inherited the title in her own right, as did her only child, daughter Mary.

Mary was born deaf and her marriage to her cousin Murrough O’Brien on March 5, 1753 at Duke Street Chapel, Story’s Gate, St James’s Park was conducted by signs.

After the ceremony the couple returned to their home Rostellan Castle on the west coast of Ireland, although Murrough spent much of his time in London where he had many mistresses.

Rostellan Castle

When Mary’s daughter was born in 1755 her greatest concern was that the child might also be deaf. The story goes that Mary crept into the nursery where her baby daughter was asleep in the care of her nursemaid. As she gazed into the baby’s cradle she pulled out a large stone from beneath her shawl. The young nursemaid jumped to her feet, terrified that the Countess planned to crush the child. As she rushed to take the stone from the Countess, Mary threw it to the floor, creating a loud noise. The baby awoke and began to cry and the mother sank to her knees ‘in a transport of joy’ relieved that the child was able to hear.

This account was recalled 75 years later in the obituary of that baby, the 4th Countess of Orkney published in the Gentleman’s Magazine in 1830.

Sadly there is a somewhat disturbing postscript to this poignant tale.

“She (the 3rd Countess) exhibited on many other occasions similar proofs of intelligence, but none so interesting.”

Along with the title Mary also held property of her own. Her grandfather George,Hamilton, 1st Earl of Orkney, bought Taplow Manor in around 1700. It was here that George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham built his 17th century palatial manor house. The lodges, temple and pavilions were later additions completed by Mary’s grandfather and the whole shebang was enjoyed by, among others, Frederick Prince of Wales, father of George III, who leased the property for several years.

Sadly Buckingham’s pile was razed to the ground in 1795. The property better known today as Cliveden House was built on the site in 1851,

Cliveden

Cliveden

Cliveden was later owned by the Astor family. American born Nancy, Lady Astor was the first woman to take her seat in the House of Commons, elected Tory MP for Plymouth South in 1919.

The Victorian mansion later provided the backdrop for the notorious 1960s Profumo Affair featuring Christine Keeler and John Profumo, Conservative MP for Kettering and Secretary of State of War. Their brief affair ruined Profumo’s reputation and political career and even toppled the Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.

Nancy Aston by John Singer Sargent

Nancy Aston by John Singer Sargent

Even though Lady Astor has no connection (well, none so far discovered) to the St John family I couldn’t resist including this beautiful portrait by John Singer Sargent.

Mary died at Rostellan Castle in May 1790. Some accounts say she was buried at Cloyne Cathedral in County Cork others at Taplow in Buckinghamshire. My research continues.

So what is the connection between Mary O’Brien, 3rd Countess of Orkney and the St John family at Lydiard Park. Well, if I told you that the maiden name of both her grandmothers’ was Villiers, would that help? Elizabeth Villiers, the former mistress of William III, married George Hamilton, 1st Earl of Orkney. Her daughter Anne was Mary’s mother. Mary Villiers married William O’Brien, 3rd Earl of Inchiquin and their son William O’Brien, 4th Earl of Inchiquin was Mary’s father. Mary and Elizabeth Villiers were the daughters of Sir Edward Villiers and Frances Howard. Sir Edward was the youngest son of Sir Edward Villiers and his wife Barbara St John, born at Lydiard House c1590.

And there’s more … but let’s save that for another day.

Malet Wilmot, Lady Lisburne

If you’ve ever been embarrassed by a spot of dad dancing or a dodgy jumper and slacks combo, spare a thought for Malet Wilmot, youngest daughter of John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester.

Lady Malet Wilmot

Lady Malet Wilmot

Malet’s dad was probably the most outrageous member of Charles II’s Restoration court, and that in itself is quite an accolade. He produced some of the rudest poetry and plays ever written and led a life of debauchery, dying at the age of 33 probably from syphilis or maybe alcoholism.

John Wilmot, 2nd Earl Rochester

John Wilmot, 2nd Earl Rochester

In 1665 he attempted an abduction of the wealthy heiress Elizabeth Malet, after which he spent three weeks on the naughty step in the Tower of London. But perhaps it was all just a playful escapade as the lady married him some two years later anyway.

Elizabeth Malet, Countess of Rochester

Elizabeth Malet, Countess of Rochester

Malet, the youngest of their four children, was born in 1675. Her father succumbed to his excessive lifestyle in 1680 when she was barely five years old and her mother died less than a year later, so little Malet probably had scant memory of either of her parents.

The orphaned children then came under the guardianship of their formidable, puritanical grandmother, the Dowager Countess of Rochester, the former Anne St John. It must have all come as a bit of a shock!

Anne St John, Dowager Countess of Rochester

Anne St John, Dowager Countess of Rochester

Yet despite her notorious father, or perhaps because of him, Malet was a very desirable prospect in the marriage stakes. Her brother Charles had died aged just 10, leaving his three sisters as co-heiresses of the Rochester family fortunes.

Malet was married off at the age of 17 to wealthy Welsh landowner John Vaughan. The marriage took place at St Giles’ in the Fields on August 18, 1692. Consent was given by Malet’s meddling grandmother, the Dowager Countess of Rochester who had recently moved from her Oxfordshire home to a property in St Anne’s, Soho.

The couple had six children – three sons and three daughters – all of whom were christened at Trawsgoed, a vast estate extending across 22 parishes in Cardiganshire, complete with panoramic views of the Cambrian mountains and the remains of a Roman fort, held by the Vaughan family since 1200.

Trawsgoed mansion house

Trawsgoed mansion house

John Vaughan served as MP for Cardiganshire 1694-1698 and was created baron Fethers and Viscount Lisburne by William III on June 25, 1695.

In 1720 Lord Lisburne sold the manor of Sutton Mallet in Somerset, an estate that had been held by his deceased wife’s Malet family for as long as Trawsgoed had been owned by his own. The property was bought by the disreputable Robert Knight, cashier of the doomed South Sea Company. His son, Robert Knight, Lord Luxborough, bought the manor following the enforced sale of his father’s estate. For readers keeping track of St John family doings – Robert Knight, Lord Luxborough, was the husband of Henrietta St John. Malet and Henrietta shared a common ancestry and were the great grandchildren of John St John, 1st Baronet, and Anne Leighton and were, therefore second cousins.

Elizabeth Barry

Elizabeth Barry

Malet died in 1716 aged 40ish. Did she have a problem with her Papa’s past? Apparently not as she appears to have kept up a correspondence with Elizabeth Barry, one of her father’s mistresses and mother of his natural daughter Elizabeth Clerke. The former actress wrote letters to Malet full of local news and gossip. Well who would have thought?

And for the Royal watchers among you – Lady Malet Wilmot is the 8x great grandmother of William, Duke of Cambridge.

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Katherine St John, Lady Mompesson

Intriguing and frustrating in equal measure is the paucity of information available about some of these Good Gentlewomen. At least there is a portrait of Katherine St John on the magnificent St John polyptych, believed to have been painted by that Tudor ‘Curtain and Carpets’ master William Larkin.

The six St John sisters. Katherine is picture far right

The six St John sisters. Katherine is picture far right

Katherine is believed to have been born around 1585, the eldest daughter of Sir John St John and his wife Lucy Hungerford. Katherine and her siblings spent their early childhood at the medieval mansion in Lydiard Park.

Following their father’s death in 1594 Katherine’s two brothers Walter and John were made Wards of Court. Although Lucy quickly remarried it appears that not all her children remained with her. Some of the girls at least were sent to live at Battersea with their uncle Oliver St John – a pretty unhappy time for them according to Katherine’s niece Lucy Hutchinson.

Katherine married Giles Mompesson, the son of Thomas Mempesson from Great Bedwyn, in 1606/7 at St John’s Church, Hackney. Katherine could have been as young as 13 although this would not have been considered exceptionally young – her sister in law Anne Leighton was this age when she married Katherine’s brother John at the same church the following year. However it is believed that Anne and John did not live as man and wife for several years; the fate of Katherine is not known. Life at Battersea might not have been a barrel of laughs but I’d wager a purse full of gold and silver thread that it was preferable to living with Sir Giles.

In 1621 he was described as ‘a litle black man of a black swart complection with a litle black beard’ but perhaps after eighteen years of marriage Katherine had stopped noticing – there were far more pressing problems for her to cope with by then. Sir Giles was – how can I put it – entrepreneurial. No, that’s not quite the right word. Avaricious, a miscreant, probably quite loathsome I would imagine, that’s more like it.

The St John family, along with most other aristocrats of the day, were quick to exploit their advantages and Sir Giles had one hugely influential in-law. Katherine’s sister Barbara was married to Sir Edward Villiers, half brother to royal favourite George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, who was close to the ear (and other anatomical features) of King James I.

George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham

George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham

Through Buckingham Sir Giles managed to land a few plum positions. By 1620 Sir Giles had been appointed Commissioner to grant Licences to Keepers of Inns and Alehouses, a hugely lucrative job if you knew how to play it. Sir Giles charged exorbitant fees – £5-£10 and those that couldn’t afford to pay up he prosecuted, approximately 4,000 people. But that wasn’t all. Sir Giles procured the patent and exclusive right to manufacture gold and silver thread. Apparently the process was incredibly dangerous. Wiltshire antiquarian John Aubrey records those involved in the production suffered badly – ‘they rotted their heads and arms and brought lameness on those that wrought it, some losing their eyes and many their lives by the venom of the vapours that came from it.’

This caused such uproar that the King called in the patent, but it was Mompesson’s abuse of his role as Alehouse Commissioner that really got him into trouble. Sir Giles was stripped of his knighthood, fined £10,000 and sentenced to life imprisonment. However, he had already done a flit overseas by the time the judgement came in so his sentence was commuted to perpetual banishment. Wiley Sir Giles lay low in France where Katherine joined him, and returned when all the fuss had died down.

The general opinion was that James came down so heavily on Sir Giles to appease a people that hated the royal favourite. George Villiers, an extremely unpopular figure, was eventually stabbed to death in a Portsmouth pub on August 23, 1628 by Army Officer John Felton.

So where did Katherine figure in this right old who ha? The fine paid by her husband was returned to her in a roundabout way. The King granted that the £10,000 be placed in the hands of Katherine’s brother Sir John St John and her younger half brother Edward Hungerford ‘in trust to the use of Lady Mompesson and her child.’

Sir Giles and Lady Katherine Mompesson

Sir Giles and Lady Katherine Mompesson

Katherine died in 1633 aged approximately 48. Her reprehensible husband erected a monument to her memory in the church of St Mary’s and outlived her by a further eighteen years.

A translation of the Latin inscription on the tomb reads:

Sacred to the memory of the best of women, the lady Katherine Mompesson, peerless in beauty, chastity, constancy, piety, and every form of virtue, the eldest sister of John St John of Lydiard Tregoze, Baronet, and dearest wife of Giles Mompesson of the ancient family of Bathampton in the County of Wiltshire, knight. This Giles, fully mindful of twenty-six years of happy married life (being still alive) has made this tomb, where he has given orders for his ashed to be laid (when the day shall come). She died on 28 March, 1633.

Stay, traveller, not to damage these effigies made by the sculptor’s hand.

Read in full the ways of those now dead.

Warwick the Kingmaker

In this week’s episode of the White Queen (BBC1 9pm Sunday) St John sister Margaret Beaufort joins Warwick’s rebellion against Edward IV.

Lady Margaret Beaufort

Lady Margaret Beaufort

However, this celebration  of medieval matriarchs doesn’t tell the complete story of the myriad of mothers moving behind the scenes.The scheming Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, may have been the Kingmaker, but he couldn’t have done it without his army of female relatives.

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Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick

Richard Neville was the son of Richard, Earl of Salisbury and Alice Montacute. Born in 1428 Richard was the first of the couple’s five sons – Ralph and Robert who both died young; Thomas who was killed in the Battle of Wakefield in 1460 (their father, Salisbury, was captured and lynched at Pontefract the following day); George, Bishop of Exeter and later Archbishop of York and John, Marquess of Montague who was to die with his illustrious brother at the Battle of Barnet in 1471.

But in the background was a bevy of female relatives who were betrothed, gave birth and managed extensive estates. It could be said their lives were not their own – although this might be a naive opinion, considering the influence both Margaret Beaufort and Elizabeth Woodville managed to wield.

Elizabeth Woodville, Edward IV's Queen.

Elizabeth Woodville, Edward IV’s Queen.

During the coming week I will be posting articles about Warwick’s six sisters, Joan, Cecily, Eleanor, Alice, Katherine and Margaret, whose lifetimes spanned the turbulent period of the War of the Roses – the Cousins’ War.

Elizabeth Hervey, Countess of Bristol

Elizabeth Felton was born on December 18, 1676 the only daughter of Betty and Sir Thomas Felton. One cannot help but wonder what Elizabeth Felton’s childhood was like. She was probably well provided for – never short of a new gown or two – but with a mother like Betty Felton, lewd and pocky, according to a popular 17th century verse – well, what an example to set a young girl.

Lady Elizabeth Hervey, Countess of Bristol

Lady Elizabeth Hervey, Countess of Bristol

The eighteen year old heiress married John Hervey, 1st Earl of Bristol, at Boxted Church, Suffolk on July 25, 1695, becoming his second wife. Whig MP for Bury St Edmunds from 1694 – 1703, John Hervey was a lover of bloodstock breeding and horse matches and his Suffolk home was suitably close to that hub of horse racing, Newmarket. Yet, despite their incompatibility – she like town, he liked country – theirs was a devoted marriage.

John Hervey, 1st Earl of Bristol

John Hervey, 1st Earl of Bristol

When he was away from home they sent each other love letters by each post. He addresses Elizabeth as ‘My ever new Delight’ while she calls him ‘My dear dear life.’ In a letter dated December 30, 1696 she adds a PS ‘The children are all well. I beg your pardon for forgetting them last time; but you’ll forgive it when I tell you the thoughts of you would leave no room for anything else.’

Lady Elizabeth Hervey, Countess of Bristol

Lady Elizabeth Hervey, Countess of Bristol

The children were John’s family by his first wife Isabella, a son Carr and two daughters Catherine and Isabella. Elizabeth’s first child, John was born in the first year of her marriage and like most high born 18th century women, Elizabeth was pretty much permanently pregnant for the next 18 years  She would have a further 16 children plus a set of triplets born in 1701 that did not survive and a still born son in 1704. In 1699 she had two babies within 12 months – Thomas was born on January 20 and William on December 25. James Porter Hervey died in 1706 barely two months old. Humphrey Hervey born in 1708 died young and Felton born in 1710 died at 13 days old while James was just 14 months old when he died in 1714.

(c) National Trust, Ickworth; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Lady Elizabeth Hervey, Countess of Bristol with her twins, Charles and Henrietta

Her six daughters fared slightly better, although Henrietta died aged nine years old and her same named sister at sixteen. Barbara was 27 when she died and eldest daughter Elizabeth made it to 29. Louisa, wife of Sir Robert Smyth, was 55 when she died and Anne made it to her 64th birthday.

Lady Barbara Hervey, named after her maternal grandmother

Lady Barbara Hervey, named after her maternal grandmother

In 1718 aged 42, her child bearing years over, Elizabeth was one of six Ladies of the Bedchamber appointed to Princess Caroline of Ansbach who later became the Queen Consort of George II. Elizabeth continued in this role until the Queen’s death in 1737.

Elizabeth’s six page will, written in December 1740, contains considerable detail concerning her home in Bury St Edmunds. She leaves the house and all the plate, goods, pictures, china and furniture for the use of her husband and following his death, to their youngest son Felton.

At the time she wrote her will, Elizabeth had outlived ten of her children. Her eldest son was to act as trustee for her property and she leaves him  ‘my cabinet chest large screen and small screen being white Japan of my own work in confidence that he will preserve them for my sake.’

To her unmarried daughter Lady Ann she leaves ‘my gilt Etoilet and all the furniture and things thereunto belong and also ‘that Snuff Box with her father’s picture in it.’

Lady Ann Hervey as a child

Lady Ann Hervey as a child

To her other surviving daughter Lady Louisa Caroline Isabella Smyth she leaves ‘my Ring with my Lord’s picture and another Ring set with the late Queen’s hair as also the said Queen’s picture now in my house at Bury.’

She leaves a large emerald ring to her husband which she asks that he wear ‘for my sake’ and the rest of her jewellery and Rings she leaves ‘unto my Trustees and Executors to sell and dispose of.’

She leaves instructions that her granddaughter Elizabeth Hervey, eldest daughter of her son Henry, should be placed under the care and supervision of Sir John and she bequeaths her £1,000 when she attains the age of 21 years, or when she gets married.

One last bequest, Elizabeth wants her maiden name of Felton to be added to the names of her sons and grandsons in remembrance of her family.

Elizabeth died on May 1, 1741 being seized with a fit as she was in St James’ Park in her sedan chair. She was buried in the Hervey family vault at St Mary’s Church, Ickworth, Suffolk.

Barbara St John, wife of Sir Edward Villiers

Barbara St John, wife of Sir Edward Villiers

And for those readers wondering how Elizabeth Hervey, Countess of Bristol is connected to the St John family at Lydiard House – her maternal grandmother was Barbara Villiers, the daughter of Sir Edward Villiers and Barbara St John.